This has been a horrible day for writing. I’m not really sure why writing is such hard work, or why writers are so compelled to write…all the time. I never intended to be a writer, although every job I’ve ever held (except when I did data entry at a scrap metal yard) required writing skills as part of the job. I consider myself a good writer, but only in regard to it being a part of the job, not the job itself. But, out of work and bored, I decided to start a blog as a way to keep my mind alert, learn a new skill, etc. Only recently have I felt comfortable calling myself a writer, or rather a blogger. One day, when a friend asked me how I was doing, I told her I was still unemployed. Her immediate response was, “No you’re not. You are a blogger!” A light bulb went on in my head, and ever since I’ve called myself a writer.
Now that I’ve assumed the title, I’m finding out what a challenge this is, and in the process, I’m developing a love for writing. Writing: bane and blessing rolled into one. One problem quickly became apparent, and that was I simply did not write enough. At most, I wrote twice a week. More typical was once or twice a month. After some months of this, it was time to take steps to further hone my writing skills. Someone somewhere threw down the gauntlet: blog every day for thirty days. That seemed like a good challenge for me, as well as something that was do-able.
Accepting and following through on this challenge would be my practice. I know a lot about practice. I used to play the piano, and, at one point in my life, was quite good at it. But becoming proficient at playing the piano didn’t happen overnight. I first had to learn the names of the notes and where to find them on the keyboard. My teacher, Ms. Billie, patiently taught me the correct fingering, counting, musical definitions (crescendo, fortissimo, forte, staccato, etc.). There were scales to learn, simple tunes to play, how to chord, and on and on. The early days were rough. I wanted to quit. Mom insisted that we each have at least two years of piano lessons, then if we were no longer interested, we could drop the lessons. I was the only one of the four of us to stick with it. The longer I played, the more I practiced, the better I got. Somewhere along the way, I began to enjoy playing the piano. I was in my element performing at recitals. People applauded, and I got quite a few accolades through the years. But no one (other than my teacher and my family) knew how much I had to practice every day in order to perform well. No matter how good I was, I had to keep up the practice. Eventually, if I missed even one day playing the scales and learning the music, I could tell. After college, I slacked on the practice. Other activities began to crowd out my piano time. Within a few years I was rarely touching the piano. Now, it has been so long since I’ve practiced that even the simplest tunes are a challenge for me to play. The painful part of all of this is that I have the knowledge of how well I once played locked in my memory. I know for a fact that practice makes perfect.
Practice is never easy, even for the very talented. Resistance to practicing is a challenge that we all struggle with. My husband runs almost every day for exercise, and has done so as long as I have known him. He is not practicing to race, rather he runs for health, well-being, and enjoyment. Many a morning he rolls out of bed grumbling and “not in the mood” to run, but he runs anyway. Something happens when he pushes through that inertia. Somewhere along the trail he truly begins to enjoy himself. It was that way with me when I practiced the piano. This is the same way it is for writing, now.
It is easy to shrug off practice and follow any one of many whims. I’ve done it more times than I care to remember. I’ve also experienced, and witnessed in others, that when I’ve pushed the distractions aside, focused my mind on the task at hand, and practiced till I reached the point of, if not perfection, at least enjoyment, that writing becomes the music that playing the piano once was for me.
This is day five of the thirty day challenge. So far, so good.